The person next to you

“I was floored — I remember I was actually reading it on the subway on my smartphone — it was an article about a body of research that was showing how college students, because of their devices, had showed — I think it was almost a 40 percent drop in empathy. And it was because of just this simple thing. I mean, I’m sure there was more to it, but the most vivid example I saw that really resonated with me was, before you had the world at your fingertips, in your pocket, if you were sitting at a lunch table or waiting in line, and there was a pause in your conversation, you couldn’t just retreat into something that was deeply distracting and interesting. You would actually have to re-engage with the person next to you, look them in the eye and find something else to say, as awkward as that is.” ~ Heather McGhee, in conversation with Krista Tippett and Matt Kibbe

There’s a split-second delay after you open the Twitter app on your phone before you can see how many notifications you have. That delay is there on purpose.

It’s the same delay casinos program into slot machines. It’s the same delay that Facebook uses before you click on your notifications. It’s the same delay this blog uses when it makes me wait an extra second before my stats refresh.

It’s the same reason Netflix and Youtube automatically start loading the next video after you’ve watched the last one.

Making you wait creates a rush of anticipation, and that rush makes you want more of it. Every media company is in an arms race for your attention.

But the person sitting next to you may very well need your attention.

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